New Program Connects Vulnerable Homeless Residents With Mental Health Help

Sep 10, 2019

Credit J. Tyler Franklin

A new program aims to connect vulnerable homeless adults with mental health help and housing.

The nonprofit organization Wellspring is launching the program with $100,000 from the city’s budget and $150,000 from the James Graham Brown Foundation. Wellspring CEO Katharine Dobbins said the program addresses what the homeless community has needed for a long time.

“I think this is an important service and I’ve got to believe it’s going to make a difference,” Dobbins said. “These are folks who’ve been pretty disenfranchised. Who’ve been pretty alienated. Who just really haven’t had a lot of support and haven’t been brought into the mainstream.”

Dobbins said the program will hire five people, including a doctor, physician and case workers, to find and help adults with serious mental illness who have been homeless for months or years. 

Louisville has struggled to help its homeless population this year, amid a $25 million city budget cut. Despite that overall cut, Louisville recently allocated $1 million towards organizations addressing homelessness, including the city money that’s helping Wellspring launch its new mental health program. But among the budget casualties were the city’s adult crisis center, which provided a place for people struggling with substance abuse or other issues to go, 24-hours a day.

Dobbins said Wellspring’s program will likely serve clients who would have used that crisis center, but funding could be an issue. She said the program is starting with a $100,000 deficit, which she expects will be covered by clients’ Medicaid. She said Wellspring will review data in July to decide if the program will continue.

“We’re taking on a challenge here, so results don’t happen overnight,” Dobbins said. “In a year we’ll have to evaluate where we are. Are we seeing the outcomes we hope to see? Are we making the impact we hope to make?”

If the program shows results and covers the budget deficit, Dobbins wants to continue it until at least 2021.

Organizations like the Louisville Office of Resilience and Community Services, St. John’s Center for Homeless Men and the Coalition for the Homeless are partnering with Wellspring’s program to provide references and support.